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The butterfly effect
First off, if you haven’t seen the film ‘The Butterfly Effect’ then shame on you, but I was wondering if you could jump back at any point in time, to just change one thing about your team’s season, let’s say including the last couple of seasons, what would you change?
As an Arsenal fan, it’s easy. I’d jump back to when Suarez was still at Liverpool and Arsenal made that ludicrous bid of £40 million and one pound, have a word with Wenger and tell him to break the bank for him. Let’s call it £50 million…stretching to £55million after negotiations. There, done and dusted. Arsenal win the league in successive seasons, until Barca come in with a £120million world record bid, Suaurez leaves, and we all lived happily ever after.
I’m guessing Leicester wouldn’t change a thing this season…unless the only reason they romped the league was because…hang on a second!!!
Kireca (the first and last Ashton Kucher film I ever watched)
With the news this morning that Mamadou Sakho will not request a second test and instead offer mitigating circumstances in a hope to lessen his drugs ban it seems that the best case scenario is a six-month ban. If this is the case he will only be available towards the end of Autumn and this leaves Liverpool with some serious questions.
As it stands our senior CBs to start next season will be Lovren, Matip, Sakho, Toure and Skrtel. In terms of youngsters, Illori has barely got a sniff since being rescued from the sinking HMS Villa and will be shipped off in summer. Joe Gomez’s future is probably at centre-back but he has yet to play there for Liverpool after spending the whole of Klopp’s reign on the treatment table. Andre Wisdom will also return from his season-long loan at Norwich but has spent the last few seasons at right-back despite starring at age group level in the centre and in my opinion will also get sold in the summer.
Skrtel, despite his recent injury worries is behind Kolo in the current pecking order and Klopp doesn’t seem to rate him – expect him to be sold to Besiktas or someone similar. Even the aforementioned Kolo’s contract runs out at the end of this season and it’s uncertain if the club intend to keep him. Do Liverpool offer Kolo a year-long extension and make do with Lovren, Matip and the Ivorian (with Gomez as 4th choice cover) until Sakho is available or do they wade into the transfer market? Premium defenders like Laporte, Hummels or Gimenez are well outside our capabilities but who else is available and suitable?
My guess is it depends on the length of the ban. If six months then I reckon Klopp will make do and pray injury doesn’t strike Lovren or Matip concurrently. Anything longer and I expect Subotic to field some flattering phone calls from Anfield over the summer. Whichever the case, Sakho’s carelessness has left our defence even further in the poop
Osric the Brave (I’d give Kolo another year regardless), Cape Town
City fans are happy with 0-0
It seems I’m the only one who thinks it was a good result for City last night.
I was sat in work all day yesterday and throughout the game thinking as long as Real don’t get an away goal we have a chance.
It would have been nice to take a lead to Madrid, but at least we don’t have to go there needing two goals before the game kicks off.
Ronaldo may well score 19 goals next week and invent a new free-kick, but at least we go there with a chance.
Once again Fernandinho was immense and Fernando is starting to look better and better in his role a defensive midfielder. Otamendi is a beast and I think after another year will be amongst the best centre-backs in the league.
However it Joe Hart who was my man of the match, produced two great saves when it looked like Real would score to keep the dream alive.
Yet again Sterling came on and did nothing to show why we paid £50 million for him. He can’t help but give the ball away and when he did get a chance he couldn’t even control the ball. Where has the player gone who looked pretty good at Liverpool?
It was nice to see BT have to apologise for the United-Red tinted Champions League coverage they have served up this season every time we have played.
I thought it was the done thing in the tele-media to support the English team.
Hopefully Liverpool can do it tonight and I think there will be some extra motivation after the verdict from the Hillsborough enquiry.
It has been said a lot already, but massive respect to the people of Liverpool for never giving up.
DANNY B MCFC (90 mins from tears of joy or despair, ooooh love it!)
…The last two times we’ve played Barca in the knockout, we lost 0-2 and 1-2 at home, effectively ending both ties as we had to win 3-0 and 2-0 away, not much chance of that!
0-0 at home to Real renders our chances still very much alive, so that for me is progress. Do I think we’ll qualify? No, but we’re a lot closer than the last two years. Yeah, Id have preferred to win 2-0, but at 0-0 I’m not unhappy, so much so that I will getting in my car and driving to Madrid next week.
Steve, MCFC South of France
…Slightly disappointed by Sarah Winterburn’s article this morning. I’m not saying it’s part of some general media agenda against the blue side of Manchester, as some fair points were made, but it really would be nice to see a little bit of credit for the team that has a pretty reasonable chance of being the first English side to compete in the final since 2012.
Last night’s performance was pretty assured and professional in my view. Even without Ronaldo, Real remain a very capable side and also a side that is not easy to break down, even more so when one of your key creative players (Silva) leaves the field after 40 mins, to be replaced (slightly inexplicably) by a raw, if very exciting teenager.
What would be particularly nice to see would be some praise for City’s much-maligned defence, which has now conceded two goals in the last six games (which has included games against PSG, Chelsea and Real Madrid – clean sheets were kept in all of those). Otamendi looked particularly strong last night and Mangala’s recent performances have been impressive.
It’s also difficult to conclude that City’s best chance has gone when you consider that three of City’s best performances this season have come away from home in Europe – at Sevilla, Dynamo Kiev and PSG. People will most likely blithely conclude that none of those are as difficult as getting a result in the Bernabeu (and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree) but those people would probably have given City very little chance of being only the third team to win at Sevilla in 12 Champions League ties, yet they did that with relative ease.
I’m not blinded by optimism – I realise that a 2-0 win last night would have been far more preferable, and a failure to take advantage of what was undoubtedly a weakened Real side may come back to haunt Pellegrini. There’s absolutely no basis however to write us off just yet.
Correcting Manc maths
Just a quick point in regards to Jimbles, WFC’s who claimed drawing 0-0 is about as good as winning 1-0. Not quite sure about that logic. The advantage you get from winning 1-0 is that you can lose the second leg. Lose 1-0, you get extra time. Lose 2-1, 3-2 etc. and you go through. That’s a fairly sizeable advantage.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
…In response to Jimbles, WFC: He states that winning 1-0 against Real last night wouldn’t have made much difference in the tie for City. He says it would make a 0-0 draw in Madrid enough but not much else. Really?
It would have made quite a lot of difference actually, why yes it certainly would make 0-0 enough to go through but it would also make the following score lines enough: 1-0 (would have gone to extra time), 2-1, 3-2, 4-3. Basically City could have afforded to lose by one goal and still go through or at least have extra time and possibly pens. Now they must at least match however many Madrid score in the Bernabeu. I am not saying it is impossible but Wolfsburg couldn’t do it with a 2-0 head start.
United under Fergie learned from their previous years’ experience/mistakes and followed the blueprint for this type of tie by keeping the back door shut at all times, drawing 0-0 in the Nou Camp in the semi-finals in 2008/9, we then played them back at Old Trafford and kept another clean sheet against Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Eto’o, Deco & Yaya Toure for another 90 minutes only for an early Paul Scholes thunder-b**tard to put us ahead on 14 minutes.
United then defended like their lives depended on it for the remaining 76-plus minutes and that along with some world-class saves from Van der Sar helped send us through to play Chelsea in the final. Just the one away goal would have sent us crashing out and Real Madrid will be very wary of that.
Even with Ronaldo, Tevez and Nani we were still classed as underdogs even playing at home. You need a bit of luck to get to the final and you need even more luck when you get there but if your name is on the trophy then it will happen somehow. If the football gods want you to win then you will, if they don’t they will allow you to fall flat on your backsides, just ask John Terry.
Phil (So glad it was raining that night in Moscow, the heavens truly opened up for us) MUFC Salford
Not worrying about Dele
I’d like to add my two cents about Sarah Winterburn’s article on why we should worry about Dele Alli’s ‘devilment’ – what was the point of it? If you can show us a single example of a young, talented and aggressive player who successfully curbed the aggressive side of the game, then it might be a worthwhile discussion. But I can’t think of any. Because it’s either in a player’s nature or it isn’t. If a player is ‘that sort of player’ they will always be ‘that sort of player’.
The most obvious example of talented and aggressive players are probably Rooney and Suarez. Both have had flashpoints of aggression that saw them in serious trouble, and I’m sure a lot of people were concerned at the time, but did they change their ways? Did they bollocks. Rooney will lash out and kick someone again, Suarez will probably bite someone again, it’s just who they are. A player’s technical ability and their mentality are not separate entities where one can be altered without affecting the other. In the case of Suarez especially, I think that his ‘incidents’ are born out of a hyper-competitiveness that occasionally gets beyond his control – and this is not to excuse him biting people, but I firmly believe that without his competitiveness he wouldn’t be half the player he is. That drive that occasionally makes him go all bitey is the same thing that drives him to be first to every 50-50 ball, that drives him to instinctively know what he wants to do before he’s even received a pass.
To bring it back to Alli, he was playing League One football – the league where Premier League teams send their 20-year-olds on loan to ‘toughen up’ – from the age of 16. Clearly he learned to add an aggressive edge to his game to survive, and that’s part of what has propelled him to the top of the game in four years. He’s already as good as said he won’t be changing anytime soon, and why should he? It’s already too late to change him. His past and present managers don’t have a problem with it, because they recognise it’s all part of what makes him the player he is. I’m sure he will pick up some red cards in his career, but that hasn’t clouded people’s opinions too much on some of the Premier League’s greatest ever midfielders – Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira as just two examples.
I guess what I’m saying is – why ‘worry’ about it? His technique, his aggression, his composure, his petulance, are all just segments of what make him Dele Alli. Take any of them away and you don’t have the same player on your hands – and what a talented player he is. It’s swings and roundabouts, you take the rough with the delightfully smooth, and every cloud has a glorious 24 carat gold lining.
Olly Cole, THFC (and Yacob had it coming anyway)
I believe that Jimbles misunderstood Winty’s article on Delli Alli’s ‘devilment’.
The article was a well-written critique of the football media, with its tendency to encourage acts of passion and emotion, specifically ‘passionate’ red card offences. And then once they get sent off they are labelled as ‘one stupid boy’, in a cruel act of betrayal.
The article serves as more of a warning that we are already half-way through this process, rather than an awareness campaign about Alli’s temper.
Kelly (WHUFC New Zealand)
Three Mailbox points
Dele Alli: I couldn’t agree more with what Sarah Winterburn wrote in her article. Excuses being made for Alli will hurt his development, not help. He should be encouraged to keep the attitude without the behavior/action. The media, ex-pros and fans making excuses and tolerating such actions allow young impressionable players to externalise blame for such incidents, rather than taking responsibility. Rooney is a perfect example. He hasn’t exactly stopped petulantly kicking out, has he? Rooney is quoted as being relieved to not be blamed for his red card vs Portugal. He knew as a 20-year-old that he was to blame, and was quietly happy the blame was deflected towards Ronaldo. This learning opportunity went to waste as a result. Hopefully the same does not happen to Alli – three such incidents in four-five months is not promising.
Manchester City: Jimbles, AFC is right that the scenarios that allow City to reach the final aren’t very different between 0-0 and 1-0. But in approach and strategy for the away leg, it would have been hugely different to be able to start the second leg already in the lead. Real were there for the taking last night. If City progress it will be in spite of the first leg, not thanks to it.
Arsenal fans: I’m surprised at the surprise that Arsenal fans gloated after Spurs’ collapse on Monday. Of course they did! Why wouldn’t they? We’ve had to listen to Spurs’ excitement ramp up over the last month, hilariously culminating in ranting about Chelsea trying/not trying in matches that will no longer decide the title. Spurs fans would be singing “Are you watching Arsenal?” the moment they clinched it; it’s only natural for the inverse to occur as well.
Oliver (‘hate is a strong word, but I really really really don’t like Spurs’) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
You would still back Arsenal over Tottenham
There’s an old adage, invented by someone much more intelligent than I: there are two strikers who are joint top of the goalscoring charts at the end of the season. One is on great form and playing out of his skin, the other isn’t. Which one do you sign? The answer is the one out of form, because he can still improve.
Arsenal are playing horribly, Ozil is useless. Spurs are playing great, Eriksen is a god. And yet both teams are likely to finish up with a similar result at the end of the season (non-title winning member of the top four) and Ozil currently has the same number of goals and more assists than Eriksen.
So despite the fact that there is much less between the clubs than in recent history, no matter what a lot of other Arsenal fans think (please stop making the rest of us look like stroppy morons), who is looking better for the future? There’s many factors involved, but if you just look at the odds for the Premier League title next season, the bookies would say it’s still Arsenal.
James, north London Gooner (and since when do the bookies ever get anything wrong…)
All Spurs fans care about is Arsenal? Nonsense!
What a load of rubbish written by Bob Stokes (not an Arsenal fan by a long shot – in case you’re wondering).
First of all, well done for deciding that the opinion of a single fan equates to the opinion of an entire fanbase. Secondly, you’ve completely got the wrong end of the stick of that opinion anyway.
Do you honestly think Spurs fans don’t care about missing out on the title as long as we finish above Arsenal? Do you think Spurs fans wish that instead of finishing fourth in 2010 and qualifying for the Champions League, we’d finished fifth and Arsenal sixth? Please.
Just because someone says that LAST SUMMER the idea of coming as high as second and above our rivals is something that they’d have bitten your hand off for, doesn’t mean that they aren’t gutted NOW about missing out on the title.
There was zero jubilation in the air on Monday night when the final whistle blew against West Brom, just a horrible horrible depressing feeling that our chance of a title had gone. Fans were not high-fiving each other because, hey, who cares, we’re still above Arsenal.
I’ve been going to WHL since 1994 and I don’t know any Spurs fans who would be happy for us to fail just as long as Arsenal failed a bit more. It’s a load of tosh. We want to beat our rivals and finish above them, no different to any other fans, but that’s it.
Edward, THFC, London
Small squad can win one title, but not two…
In response to James Bruschini (I think I’ve over-egged the point a bit…) in the morning mailbox, true squad depth and having two quality players in every position is what makes a team perennial champions. Just ask the likes of Bayern, Barca, PSG and Manchester United closer to home, who have won title after title using squad management to great effect. It clearly is not an unnecessary luxury. You can fluke an unlikely win in a season where the entire (or most) of the first 11 miraculously remains fit and firing, but you will never be consistently challenging for the title. Just look at what happened at Chelsea over the last two seasons. Leicester’s title charge this season has been the perfect storm and it surely will not be repeated if based upon the same formula. You can run your first 11 into the ground for one season, history shows it can’t be done two in a row.
Rahber (where can I sign up for FSociety?) India
And they can’t compete in Europe
James Bruschini makes an interesting point regarding squad rotation, but he does seem to have missed a key part of the equation. Squad depth may not be essential to win the Premier League, but it is essential if you’re aiming to combine that with success in Europe as well. The best evidence I can think of for this is the 2006/07 season. This was probably the last season in which Fergie’s United played with a regular, settled 1st XI, up against Mourinho’s Chelsea who also didn’t rotate much. Both teams played some excellent football but were dead on their feet in the last two months of the season, limping over the line in the league, crashing out of the CL in the semis and playing out one of the worst FA Cup finals in living memory. It’s probably worth noting Spurs decision this season to ditch the Europa League in favour of maintaining their title challenge too. It will be very interesting to see how they, and Leicester, decide to deal with the challenge of combining a league campaign with competing in the CL next season. I would be very surprised if the numbers of minutes James quotes for them aren’t much more in line for the figures quoted from United, City and Chelsea this time next year.
Ray R, Man Utd, Mcr
Hypocrisy in the mailbox
I had to have a little bit of a smile at Mike (Cresswell for England) WHUFC’s mostly excellent email this morning. However, it was undermined by the wonderful way that, in the last sentence of his email, he does exactly what he was complaining about in the first sentence.
First: ‘I have to take exception to ToonBano and his basically misinformed comments about the quality of Aaron Cresswell.’
Last: ‘I don’t get to see Charlie Daniels play each week, and I know from seeing him on MOTD he can take a cracking penalty, but for me he isn’t in the same class as Cresswell’.
Can we include him in tomorrow’s Mediawatch?
Gareth (A Leicester fan not mailing in about Vardy – unless the content of these brackets counts as emailing in about Vardy…), Manchester